University of Wollongong academics concerned about proposed higher education reform have made a short video specifically for incoming students and their parents.
The "Block the Bill" video informs them of the federal government's proposal to dramatically restructure the way higher education is funded.
If federal Education Minister Dan Tehan gets his way thousands of students will pay 113 per cent more to study humanities and communications courses from next year.
Under his Job-Ready Graduate Package bill, set to be debated again in Parliament on October 7-8, university courses in health, teaching and science will have fee decreases but the fee cost of popular humanities, law and commerce degrees will increase.
Professor Fiona Probyn-Rapsey said the legislation passing on October 7-8 would be the worst case scenario for students and staff alike.
"If this happens the students who start uni in 2021 are going to have the poorest higher education system in decades," she said.
"Sure, some of their fees will be cheaper but they are going to have a much more cheaply funded degree and for humanities students they are going to be paying four times what my generation paid.
"It is horrendous."
In the video, UOW academic Dr Marcelo Svirsky denies Mr Tehan's claims that the humanities degrees don't produce job-ready graduates.
"The government's own data shows that students with degrees in arts and social sciences are just as employable as students from other disciplines," Dr Svirsky said.
Dr Adam Lucas, the Bachelor of Arts academic program director at UOW, had no answer to why the government was trying to draw a wedge between study areas.
He also questioned the logic of it "when we know it will have a disproportionate effect on women students and indigenous students".
"So my daughter when she goes to university next year, she will be paying in one year what I paid for an entire degree," Professor Probyn-Rapsey said.
"It is just absolutely shocking. I really genuinely think that high school students in Year 12 right now don't really understand how bad it is and that's why we are addressing this video to future students and families."
They are also demanding better advocacy from university leadership, including vice-chancellors.
"They are paid $1 million per year. Why the hell can't they get out there and advocate for the industry they are supposed to be representing?" Prof Probyn-Rapsey said.
"We need to do what we can to make sure these reforms don't get passed into legislation ... one way is by writing to our elected members of Parliament to ask them to reject these changes."
Dr Quah Ee Ling said Australians who wanted higher education should be able to choose from a diverse range of study areas without being penalised for their choices and without further reduction in funding.
Dr Lucas said the crisis universities were currently experiencing had been brought home by the COVID pandemic, but it actually went much deeper than that.
"There are far too many staff at our universities on precarious short-term contracts while executives salaries are grossly inflated," he said.
"Across the country we are set to lose between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs but there is nothing in the government's reforms that address this massive hit to higher education.
"It is time for real reform."
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